Mountain, New England Regions Forecast Strongest Activity, Survey Finds

Dec 2, 2008

MENLO PARK, CA -- The need for skilled information technology (IT) staff remains stable despite present economic conditions, according to a new survey. Twelve percent of chief information officers (CIOs) polled for the Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Index and Skills Report plan to expand their IT departments in the first quarter of 2009 and 4 percent expect staff cutbacks. The net 8 percent hiring increase is unchanged from the fourth quarter. The majority of respondents, 82 percent, plan to maintain current staffing levels.

The IT Hiring Index and Skills Report is based on telephone interviews with more than 1,400 CIOs from companies across the United States with 100 or more employees. It was conducted by an independent research firm and developed by Robert Half Technology, a leading provider of IT professionals on a project and full-time basis.

Key Findings

  • Among the factors driving the need for more IT personnel, systems upgrades and information systems security have increased the most quarter over quarter.
  • The largest firms (1,000 or more employees) expect the greatest staffing increase.
  • Network administration is the technical skill set in strongest demand, followed closely by desktop support and Windows administration.
  • CIOs in the Mountain1 and New England2 regions are most optimistic about hiring.
  • Networking and help desk/desktop support are the job areas experiencing the most growth.

“Businesses remain cautious in their hiring outlook, recruiting IT staff who can help them maximize the use of technology to improve efficiency, achieve cost savings and gain a competitive edge,” said Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of Robert Half Technology. “Investments in Web 2.0 initiatives continue to generate demand in areas such as web development and help desk.”

Lee added that a growing number of companies need IT personnel to support systems upgrades. Seventeen percent of CIOs polled cited this as the primary factor behind their technology hiring plans for the first quarter, up from 7 percent projected for the fourth quarter of 2008. Information systems security also is driving more IT hiring quarter over quarter: 12 percent of CIOs seek more IT personnel to support this area, compared to 7 percent last quarter. The need for professionals who can install or develop new enterprisewide applications has decreased, cited by 11 percent of CIOs for the first quarter of 2009, compared to 21 percent projected last quarter.

The nation’s largest employers anticipate the most notable hiring gains. Fourteen percent of CIOs at firms with 1,000 or more employees plan to add IT staff and 3 percent anticipate personnel reductions. The net 11 percent increase is three points above the national average.

Skills in Demand

When technology executives were asked which technical skill set is needed most in their IT departments, 70 percent said network administration (LAN, WAN). This was followed closely by desktop support and Windows administration (Server 2000/2003), with each receiving 69 percent of the response. (Note: CIOs polled were allowed multiple responses.)

Networking is the job area experiencing the most growth, cited by 18 percent of CIOs. Help desk/technical support came in second, with 17 percent of the response, followed by applications development, at 11 percent.

Regional Outlook

Technology executives in the Mountain region plan the strongest hiring activity in the first quarter. Fifteen percent of CIOs expect to add staff and 2 percent foresee personnel cutbacks. The net 13 percent increase is five points above the national average. “Businesses in the Mountain states are recruiting both web and application developers, network security professionals, and Cisco network engineers who can make an immediate impact at their firms and capitalize on technology investments,” said Lee. “Healthcare companies remain especially active in technology hiring and seek IT workers with well-rounded experience, particularly on the network side.”

The New England states also are expected to see notable hiring gains. Fourteen percent of technology executives plan to expand their IT departments and 2 percent anticipate staff reductions, for a net 12 percent hiring increase. “Companies in the New England region are performing systems upgrades and investing in virtualization and business intelligence initiatives to operate more efficiently, which is driving demand for IT professionals with relevant expertise.”

Robert Half Technology has conducted additional CIO interviews in select metropolitan areas to provide more detailed analyses of IT hiring trends in these markets. The local results are available at

Industries Hiring

Technology executives in the construction and wholesale sectors are most optimistic about hiring in the first quarter, with a net 13 percent hiring increase projected for each. CIOs in the construction industry said systems upgrades are the primary factor driving demand for more IT personnel, while wholesale executives cited a need for increased customer and/or end-user support.

About the Survey
The quarterly IT Hiring Index and Skills Report was developed by Robert Half Technology and conducted by an independent research firm. First published in 1995, the study is based on more than 1,400 telephone interviews with CIOs from a random sample of U.S. companies with 100 or more employees. In order for the study to be statistically representative and ensure that companies from all segments were represented, the sample was stratified by geographic region, industry and number of employees. The results were then weighted to reflect the proper number of employees within each region. The margin of error for this study is +/-2.6 percent at the 95 percent level of confidence.

About Robert Half Technology
With more than 100 locations worldwide, Robert Half Technology is a leading provider of technology professionals for initiatives ranging from web development and multiplatform systems integration to network security and technical support. Robert Half Technology offers online job search services at

National Hiring IT Projections

IT Hiring Index: Two-Year History

Hot IT Jobs

IT Skills in Demand

Factors Driving IT Hiring

IT Hiring by Region

IT Hiring by Industry

IT Hiring by Metro Market

1 Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming
Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont


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